Many entrepreneurs and business leaders do not understand how to fully leverage innovations in their business. Here’s a list of common mistakes when developing an innovation strategy.

  1. Only for Technology Companies – Many people believe that innovations are only for technology-based companies. Although technology businesses develop plenty of innovations, any business – regardless of size, location or industry – can develop creative ideas. These ideas may relate to the company’s products and services as well as internal business procedures.
  2. Just for Scientists and R&D Department – Business leaders often leave the company’s innovation activities to the Engineering or Research and Development departments. However, this approach can cause a company to miss out on many valuable ideas. I have seen numerous examples of innovations developed by individuals without any formal science or engineering training. These individuals often come up with great ideas because they are not “burdened” by the scientific training of others. They approach problems from a different angle and do not limit their thinking based on existing company products or systems.
  3. Thinking Innovation is Expensive – Teaching people how to identify innovative ideas takes some time, but the returns produced by new products and new product features can far outweigh the investment of time. Educating all personnel about creative thinking builds a culture of innovation that produces a steady flow of ideas throughout the business.
  4. Failing to Identify All Innovative Ideas – Innovations can be found throughout most companies, but there must be a system for identifying and recording those ideas. A good identification system provides a quick and easy method for all personnel to submit innovations for evaluation.
  5. Making Innovation Boring – People who have not been involved with an innovative company often do not understand that innovation can be fun. Celebrate creative thinking and reward great ideas that help the business grow. Offer innovation contests, brainstorming sessions and other activities that encourage creative thinking throughout the company. Show examples of innovations that are strengthening the company’s position in its market.
  6. Delaying the Innovation Process – Don’t wait until your business grows to a particular size to begin developing an innovation strategy. Many small businesses can bring creative ideas to market faster than large corporations because of their small size. Take advantage of the flexibility available to small companies and start building your innovation culture today.
  7. Not Letting Customers Support the Innovation Process – Many valuable innovations have been developed based on customer suggestions and problems identified by customers. Treat every problem or suggestion from a customer as a “seed” for developing your company’s next innovation.